java-package 0.26 uploaded

The latest version of java-package has been uploaded this evening. In addition to support for the latest security-updated Sun and Blackdown 1.4.2 JREs and JDKs, we have added a couple of features from the wishlist department:

  • The username and email inputs for make-jpkg are no longer required; they default to Debian Java Maintainers and the project’s email address.
  • Support for packaging Sun’s API Javadoc for 1.3, 1.4, and 1.5 JDKs (woohoo!), integrated with the Debian Documentation Menu for easy access.

Hope you like it. Just think, one day when the free runtimes for Java(TM) take over this will be packaging with a level of kitsch akin to vintage clothing. 8^)

An unsettling mystery solved

I work onsite for my client, and they are located inside a large complex with numerous other organizations. The parking deck to which I am assigned lies beneath the building. About 2 years ago, I started taking the stairs instead of waiting on the elevators. I had two main reasons for doing this:

  1. The elevators are unbelievably slow and prone to breaking down
  2. This would provide a meager amount of exercise on the way to sitting in a cubicle

One major drawback of taking the stairs has been this highly unpleasant smell at the bottom of the stairwell. It distinctly smells like some sort of sewage leak in the building’s infrastructure. For the longest time I was sure it would go away whenever they got around to repairing it. Instead, they would douse the entire stairwell with this industrial-grade odor killer, which would bring me closer to vomiting than the initial odor. An additional curiosity to this mystery was that I would sometimes smell cigarette smoke near the source of the sewage-based odor. Smoking in the stairwell is forbidden, but even more freakish to me was that someone would decide to smoke in a confined area with that sewage smell swirling around with their Marlboro reds.

The mystery has been solved.

An intervention upon one who likes a pee and a smoke in the stairwell

Apparently someone likes to sneak into the stairwell of this secured-access building and have a smoke and a pee. The white foam near the door is caused by a heavy dousing with bleach from the building custodial staff, who apparently also crafted the confrontational sign. I can only speculate on how the offender might retaliate to this escalation of the conflict, but I certainly hope solid human waste doesn’t enter the picture.

Extended benefit from the Debconf5 videos

It would an understatement to say that I have enjoyed the Debconf5 videos; as a New Maintainer who had no chance of being able to attend, the videos have both informed me and helped me feel more connected to the Debian community. Who knew all these hackergotchis on Planet Debian had bodies attached to them?

I received an email from the New Maintainer Front Desk today stating that they could see no evidence of me having contributed to Debian recently, and therefore I would not be assigned an Application Manager. For the first 90 seconds after I read it, I could feel the heat in my face and how rapidly my heart had begun beating. But right away I remembered the video of Hannah Wallach, Dafydd Harries, and Moray Allan’s presentation on the New Maintainer Process. I remembered them saying how understaffed the process was and what a large workload existed. They also explained how sometimes you might need to provide more information during the process via email conversations. Since most of my work is in the Debian Java Packaging project, I am less visible as an individual. Almost immediately this otherwise upsetting message made sense. I provided a writeup of my activity with links and mailed it back, ego a bit bruised but not too shaken 8^).

So thanks once more to the video team and to all the presenters from Debconf; your labor has paid off long after the conference and I can personally say it has made a positive and encouraging impact in my life.

Why selling our house is so much fun

So it was a great weekend of doing some Debian work, getting out and riding my mountain bike, and slogging through some intense yardwork. I was looking forward to writing about that in a witty and concise fashion. However, the ongoing saga of trying to have a normal experience in selling our house has required that I spend that writing time on another task. In light of that, I decided to post that writing task as a subtitute, with a picture included. For those who know about the saga of our real estate sign, this is the latest update.

Hi, wanted to drop you a line regarding the last sign installation.
Since this sign has only been up for ~1 week or so, I thought you guys
might not have had a chance to see it yet. I have included a picture of
each side of the sign for you guys to check out. I have a couple of
questions about this sign once you have had a chance to look at the

1.) Did this sign have a bad experience at a past assignment? It seems
to have been smeared with a great deal of mud.

2.) Did you guys know that the sign reads “Excusively Marketed” instead
of “Exclusively Marketed”?

3.) Do you guys feel satisfied with the appearance of this sign? From a
distance it looks like maybe it has some exquisite antique finish, but
then you get a bit closer and can tell it’s just smeared with mud.

The saga of the sign has become the stuff of legend. Also, by now
my neighbor’s grass is pretty damaged from the installation, removal,
and resintallation, as you can probably see at the bottom of the
pictures. Please don’t attempt to remediate this with any swift action;
each successive step has shown me that things can indeed get worse. Get
back to me on your impressions from the pictures and my questions above,
and we will figure out what will hopefully be the last thing we do with
the sign before hanging an “Under Contract” shingle on it.
Late for work, gotta run. During the 9:00 – 5:00 period, my desk
phone 555-555-5555 generally works better than my mobile number.

The latest incarnation of our real estate sign


Barry Hawkins

Surprise encounter with Mako and company

So it’ s been a 60-hour week on-site in Manhattan with the client, and I never got around to calling Mako to try and hook up. I had popped in at Vol de Nuit with a coworker and her friend to relax over a Belgian beer, when I noticed someone who looked familiar out of the corner of my eye as they walked past. It turned out to be Mako, hanging out with Miko, Micah, Biella, and Greg Pomerantz (apologies all around as this is a mixture of folks that I know either by name or IRC nick, and not always both). Clint was apparently there earlier, so my trend of being at the same place as Clint but missing him by less than an hour seems to continue. It was good to get to talk with some more Debian people in person; it’s always funny to learn who belongs to a particular nick. I had “hacim” pegged for a Persian guy. I complimented Miko on her haircut, only to learn that Mako was the stylist. That’ s right, in addition to developer, open source advocate, Debian and Ubuntu community builder, and renowned desktop wallpaper model, amateur stylist can now be added to his list of credits.

I am currently languishing in New York’s LaGuardia airport as the horrible subway delays this morning caused me to miss my original flight. Despite the insane work week and some hideous wireless connectivity and package upgrade issues, I managed to get pretty far on the next release of java-package; hoping to have it ready for upoad next week.

Male Geek Guide to Long Hair

There is no doubt in my mind that the Open Source crowd, and particularly the Linux subset, has one of the highest percentages of males with ponytails. Having had my hair long enough for a ponytail for a few months now, and having observed many a long-haired fellow Free/Open Source Software enthusiast, I have collected this handy set of guidelines for having long hair as a guy, tailored for the male geek audience:

  1. When it comes to shampoo, you get what you pay for.
  2. Conditioner is your friend; cultivate that relationship.
  3. Haircuts are still important; see guideline #1 for further direction.
  4. Sheer length is not the ultimate goal, no matter what your buddies say.
  5. Long hair does not imply maintenance-free hair, and often the opposite is true.